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Commentary: Standardized tests misused and overused

LA School Report | March 17, 2015

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By AFT President Randi Weingarten | U.S. News and World Report

The 2002 No Child Left Behind Act started out with good intentions to help improve schools and student performance. But it took a wrong turn in both delivering the funding promised, and in creating, because it focused on the sanctions imposed if student test scores failed to show “adequate yearly progress,” a test-and-punish model of schooling. The law, combined with the greater evaluation and testing requirements of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, inspired today’s misuse and overuse of testing. This obsession with testing has all but eclipsed the rich and robust instruction, the engagement of students and the enjoyment of learning that should be going on in every classroom in America.

Public educators’ obligation is to help all children succeed. This is especially important and challenging given that half of all public school students live in poverty. A rich, robust, well-resourced public education is one of the best routes out of poverty and a pathway to prosperity. Yet the test-driven system is not working, and worse, it’s creating a lot of agita for students and gobbling up a lot of learning time.

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